A year ago, at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, an indoor WTA clay court event played in Stuttgart, Laura Siegemund took a major step forward when she reached the first WTA singles final of her career. That run was marked by wins over Simona Halep, Roberta Vinci and Agnieszka Radwanska. Coming into Stuttgart this year, there was little evidence Siegemund could equal that achievement. By the end of March, Siegemund’s record for 2017 was 1-7.
Still, just prior to Stuttgart, Siegemund made a run to the semis of the Volvo Car Open, the outdoor clay tournament held in Charleston. And amazingly, Siegemund once again played first-rate tennis in Stuttgart – this going yet one step further. Her victims on the way to the final included Svetlana Kuznetsova, Karolina Pliskova and Halep once again. In the finals, up against Kristina Mladenovic – who’d taken out both number one seed Angelique Kerber and Maria Sharapova – Siegemund won by the up-and-down score of 6-1, 2-6, 7-6. Down 4-1 in the decisive tie-breaker, Siegemund snapped up six of the last seven points to close out the biggest week in her career.
Certainly this kind of week can put Siegemund in contention for a fine run at Roland Garros. At her best, she has a pleasing array of shots, including a forceful backhand, daring drop shot and, most of all, an imaginative tactical mindset. When she’s not clicking, though, Siegemund seems to lack purpose, her self-doubt infecting her game and leaving her quite vulnerable to attacks and inconsistency. Still, one hopes someone who can play with this much variety and passion can stay focused enough to thrive.